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Beechwood — a great dive bar without the ‘dive’



Before the building was the Beechwood Lounge, at various times it was a bank, a federal prison and even an LGBT bar, at least according to longtime bartender Nic Bell.

“There used to be a poll and dance stage right here,” Bell motions to the rear area of the building in front of the restrooms.

But this downtown East Village establishment no longer exclusively serves bankers, criminals or any single specific sect of society.

“We cater to everyone,” said Bell, noting that there’s a mix of clientele including “suits,” politicians, young, old, black, white, brown, gay and straight.

Prep Iowa

“It’s like a great dive bar without the ‘dive,’ ” offered Amy McManus a frequent customer of Beechwood.

From front to back: Nic Bell, Amy McManus, Alex Meyer and Eric Olson.

From front to back: Nic Bell, Amy McManus, Alex Meyer and Eric Olson.

“It has its regulars and the new people who come in all the time; it’s comfortable. You have a mix of everyone who comes here.”

“We have fiercely loyal regulars,” adds Bell. “A really great mix of people and a great spot for legislators or lobbyists.”

The lounge was named by its three owners, who each previously worked for Budweiser beer, which is known for its beechwood aging process. But Bell quickly points out the bar offers many fermented products, not just Budweiser products.

“It’s a great bar for happy hours and drink specials, and then on any night of the week, you can come and get great music,” he said.

Bell and McManus are looking forward to some summer fun at the bar. The patio is open, and bags and boards are provided to play “bag-toss” while customers select from an ever-changing beer menu featuring local beers, out-of-town brews and imports.

It’s also a good place to catch a game. Bell said it is definitely a Cubs bar.

“But you can watch any game here,” he said.

The Beechwood televises as many sporting events as possible, including baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Bell says the bar will even open during off hours if there is a sporting event happening.

“Any time there’s an important game, we will open for it,” he said.

But what’s the best time Bell and McManus have ever had here? They laugh at the question, there are too many to choose from.

“I would say the Cubs opening day party,” Bell said. “Every year we have a massive party, and we fly in pizza from Chicago. And there are Chicago dogs all day. We have a hot dog bar.”

The pizza is Lou Malnati’s, and the hot dog bar is equipped with many kinds of peppers, green relish, onions, tomatoes and celery salt among other things.

But are Cardinals fans welcome at a Cubs bar?

“Yeah, bring them in. Because what makes for a good Cubs game?” Bell asked rhetorically and then answers. “A Cardinals fan. We want Cardinals fans in here, because we want the game to be fantastic.”

Beechwood Lounge specials include free pizza on Friday from 5 p.m. until it’s gone. Happy hour specials for any day except Tuesday and Sunday include $2.50 wells, draws, domestics and $1 off most other things. On Tuesday and Sundays, it’s two-for-one. There is also live comedy the last Friday of every month. CV

Beechwood Lounge

416 E. Walnut St., 515-288-2337

Hours are 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.


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